Deborah Erwin


About Deborah Erwin


Dr. Erwin is co-founder of the Witness Project, a breast cancer education and screening intervention for African American women. The Witness Project, developed in rural Arkansas, has been replicated nationally at more than 30 program sites in 22 states. Since 2001, Dr. Erwin’s ethnographic research has expanded to include the growing Latino/Hispanic population in the U.S. She has investigated and published on the efficacy of the culturally tailored intervention, Esperanza y Vida (Hope and Life) to increase breast and cervical cancer screening in Latinas/Hispanics in Arkansas and New York and is currently funded (R01 CA 171935) to investigate the efficacy of a community-based intervention to increase colorectal cancer screening with African American men and women in Buffalo and New York, NY. Most recently, Dr. Erwin is investigating the effectiveness of social media and breast cancer risk reduction messages to increase positive intent to breast feed by African American mothers (NIH 1R21CA202263) as an important translational study of research at Roswell Park. Dr. Erwin’s research has been funded by the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Defense.


Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Department of Cancer Prevention and Control

Featured on Cancer Talk


Full Publications list on PubMed
  • Jandorf L, Hecht MF, Winkel G, Thélémaque LD, Saad-Harfouche FG, Bursac Z, Greene P, Erwin DO. Increasing cancer screening for Latinas: Examining the impact of health messages and navigation in a cluster-randomized study. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 1, no. 2 (2014): 85-100.
  • Ochs-Balcom HM, Jandorf L, Wang Y, Johnson D, Meadows Ray V, Willis MJ, Erwin DO. "It takes a village": multilevel approaches to recruit African Americans and their families for genetic research. J Community Genet. 2015 Jan;6(1):39-45. doi: 10.1007/s12687-014-0199-8. Epub 2014 Aug 12. PubMed PMID: 25112899; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4286558.
  • Erwin DO, Jandorf L, Thélémaque LD, Treviño M, Saad-Harfouche FG, Castillo AG, Bursac Z, Colón J, Pulley L, Wendrell EA, Hannigan M, Mendez EI, and Horowitz C. Hope & Life: Healthy families begin with healthy women. In Cancer Disparities: Causes and Evidence-Based Solutions. R. Elk, H. Landrine, eds., (New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2012), 339-366.
  • Erwin DO, Treviño M, Saad-Harfouche FG, Rodriguez EM, Gage E, Jandorf L. Contextualizing diversity and culture within cancer control interventions for Latinas: changing interventions, not cultures. Soc Sci Med. 2010 Aug;71(4):693-701. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 May 25. PubMed PMID: 20646810.
  • Erwin, DO: The Witness Project: Narratives that Shape the Cancer Experience for African-American Women. In Confronting Cancer: Metaphors Advocacy, and Anthropology. J. McMullin, D. Weiner, eds. Pp. 125-146. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Seminar Series. 2009.